Australia is big. So if a club on the west coast wants to get to a regatta in Sydney, they have to organise their boats to get across the continent of 4069 km of driving to cover the distance from from Western Australia to New South Wales.

FISA umpire, Roger Milne, “without knowing what I was in for,” offered to help drive the boats home to Perth’s Swan River Rowing Club in Western Australia following the Sydney regatta. Milne teamed up with two rowing friends who had encouraged Milne to get his FISA umpire licence for the longest tow. Milne describes the trip.

After a late start in the first day and an overnight in Goulburn (about 200 km along the way).  Day 2 saw us drive through southern New South Wales and start to gain an impression as to just how vast this country is. By the end of the day we had driven an easy 990km, past huge acreages of irrigated cotton and vineyards bigger than anything I had ever seen. We took up residence in the rather grand Renmark Hotel, alongside the Murray River (Australia’s longest river at 2508 km).

Sleep is for pixies I was told. The 0430 alarm for a 0500 departure sounded and we headed across South Australia to Ceduna. As the first driver of the day, I witnessed road kill almost every kilometre for 200 km – much to the delight of the crows ! This day was 911 km.

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I was told that once you turn right for Western Australia, there are just two more things to remember; right at Norseman and left at Coolgardie. They did not tell me about the 140 km in a straight line along the longest stretch of straight road in the world! We travelled across the Nullabor Plain, which means ‘no trees’ in Latin and covers and area of 200,000 square km, and on to Balladonia – 1027 km of driving for the day.

By this stage the wrapped boats on Swan River Rowing Club’s trailer were starting to look a little grubby, as it was raining – a rare occurrence in this desert environment.

With just 945 km to go, we had a 0500 start from Balladonia that saw us in Perth by the evening. With tales of farmers harvesting 20,000 hectares of grain on one farm, I had a total appreciation of this extraordinarily vast country.

Thank goodness for friends who remain friends after 4069 km and 747 litres of diesel later.

Does any rowing club tow a trailer further, for their national championship regatta?